Put Your Brain On

Let Betsy's Health Foods help you with your New Year Nutrition Goals!
Let Betsy’s Health Foods help you with your New Year Nutrition Goals!

This information on B vitamins, resveratrol and l-tyrosine will help you put your brain on.

Better Brains

Nutrients improve cognitive function and memory in older adults, may aid deep thinking

 B vitamins boosted cognition

Good brain function in older adults depends on a constant supply of certain B vitamins, which help keep inflammatory homocysteine levels in check. To test if B vitamins could improve cognitive function in middle aged and older adults, doctors gave 104 people 800 mcg of folic acid, 10 mg of vitamin B6, and 25 mcg of vitamin B12 per day, or a placebo.

After 14 weeks, vitamin B levels in the placebo group had stayed the same or decreased, and homocysteine levels increased, while cognitive function did not change. In the supplement group, levels of B vitamins increased while inflammatory homocysteine levels decreased, and cognitive function significantly improved.

Discussing their findings, doctors said low vitamin B and elevated homocysteine levels injure the brain, creating the conditions that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders, and for older adults with elevated homocysteine levels, recommend taking B-vitamin supplements regularly.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; June, 2014, Published Online

Resveratrol improved memory

Restricting calories or taking nutrients that imitate these effects may help the aging brain. Resveratrol may be one such nutrient, and in prior studies, improved memory in animals. In this study, 46 healthy, overweight older adults took 200 mg of resveratrol per day, or a placebo.

After 26 weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, men and women who took resveratrol had much better recall of words they had seen on a list 30 minutes earlier, had lower long-term-average blood sugar levels, and images of the brain showed better connectivity between regions involved in memory.

Reference: Journal of Neuroscience; 2014, Vol. 34, No. 23, 7862-70

L-tyrosine may aid deep thinking

Prompted in part by Steve Jobs’ claim that eating fruit made him more creative, doctors in this study gave 32 people an orange juice drink, alone or with 2 grams of the amino acid l-tyrosine, in two alternating phases.

Researchers tested two types of creativity: divergent and convergent. Divergent thinking asks for diverse solutions to basic problems, such as suggesting multiple uses for a single object. Convergent thinking, more difficult and time-consuming than divergent thinking, asks the person to find connections between ideas or things, such as discovering the link between three seemingly unrelated words.

While there was no difference between placebo and l-tyrosine for divergent thinking, performance in convergent thinking tests improved after taking l-tyrosine.

L-tyrosine is a precursor of dopamine, a hormone released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. Doctors said tyrosine supplements may be an inexpensive, efficient, and healthy way to promote convergent thinking and support the creative process.

Reference: Psychological Research; September, 2014, Published Online

Betsy’s Note: Resveratrol also thins blood, as well as possibly having phyto-estrogenic effects.   L-tyrosine may interfere with the drug Levodopa and thyroid hormone medicines.  L-tyrosine is also contraindicated in overactive thyroid conditions.  This article is meant for educational purposes only.  It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Consult your healthcare provider.

Articles copyright Natural Insights for Well-Being, Nov. 2014 & Feb. 2015.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.